Created By: Kauffman & Associates
The Salish word for the Spokane Falls is Stluputqu, meaning "swift water." For countless generations, the Sp’q’n’I (Spokane) Tribe’s central gathering place was at these falls where tribal members met to fish and trade. In June of each year, giant 60- to 80-pound Chinook would make it to the Spokane River. This bounty was shared with many other tribes in the region. Fish were caught by many methods, including spearing from raised platforms and using fish traps.
In one story about the creation of the Spokane Falls, a Coeur d'Alene Indian woman rejected the romantic interest of Coyote. When he couldn’t get help from the Spokane or the Kalispel people to seduce or kidnap the woman, the trickster used magic to build a barrier between the salmon and the Coeur d'Alene people—the Spokane Falls.
The barriers that ultimately stopped the salmon were dams. Salmon ceased returning to the Spokane Falls in 1915 when a dam was built on the Spokane River just downstream, creating Long Lake in 1915. Then, in 1939, Grand Coulee Dam was constructed on the Columbia River, preventing salmon from reaching the Spokane River at all.
There are a few different vantage points of the falls. Enjoy the views and then proceed down the hill (either on the concrete or dirt pathway) to the next sights.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Downtown Spokane American Indian Highlights